Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Shetland Sheep  (Read 8486 times)


  • Joined Aug 2009
Shetland Sheep
« on: October 17, 2009, 04:23:41 pm »
Has anyone here kept Shetland Sheep? I have agonised over which breed I should keep as a breeding flock and think Shetlands would suit me best.
This is mainly because of their size and my advancing age! I have six Black-faced lambs at the moment and have realised I can't up-end them etc. as well as I may have twenty five years ago due to their size and my elderly back.
I have, of course, looked on all the web-sites but have only found positive when I am sure there must be a few negative views on them. Their fans, I realise, can see only the good in them.
Any information would be very helpful.


  • Joined Mar 2009
Re: Shetland Sheep
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2009, 04:43:11 pm »
I have a few Shetlands, and also Ouessants, Zwartbles and Jacobs. I like them all.
It depends on what you wish to keep them for. If it is a small flock for grazing and wool they are excellent but they are small so if you want them for meat do bear that it mind.
Have you thought of getting a contract shepherd in to do foot trimming, etc?
That is what I do now. I am lucky enough to have a retired sheep farmer come every couple of months to do what ever needs doing and he is very reasonable. If you decide to get Shetlands I would suggest you make a point of buying from someone with a small flock who breeds for temperement and bucket trains them. That is what I always do and my Shetlands are very friendly and easy to handle.   
The other points to bear in mind are Shetlands do not command a particularly high price when you sell them.
Though they do seem quite popular with first time sheep owners due to their small size.
Registered stock with good fleeces sell best so start with good quality stock.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2009, 04:49:02 pm by lindy »


  • Joined Oct 2008
Re: Shetland Sheep
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2009, 05:21:59 pm »
make sure they are park raised. they are very friendly and if your wanting easy care they should lose there coat even if ours don't. they are small and only produce small joints but thats not always a problem. we have a small herd of coloured and spotted Shetlands and three Cheviot's. the Cheviot's are much softer but like you it much harder to work with them. ours are very big girls. it takes the wife and two daughters to control a cheviot but only one for the Shetland. Shetland meat is more tender than average and with a nicer flavour. we plan to move Upton Icelandic if we can get hold of some. same as Shetlands but bigger.


  • Joined Nov 2008
  • Fife Scotland
Re: Shetland Sheep
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2009, 05:41:01 pm »
Yes I would recommend Shetlands easy care good lambers, hardy, thrifty,come in many colours and small enough to turn over easily I agree with with Shetlandpaul get ones that are used to fences and buy the best possible and train them to the bucket then they will follow you anywhere. Also the most delicious lamb and mutton.
Shetland sheep, Castlemilk Moorits sheep, Hebridean sheep, Scots Grey Bantams, Scots Dumpy Bantams. Shetland Ducks.


  • Joined Aug 2009
Re: Shetland Sheep
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2009, 07:05:28 pm »
Many thanks! I have just been told that I can use a Dorset Down ram on them, any views on this?


  • Joined Oct 2008
Re: Shetland Sheep
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2009, 07:13:40 pm »
up here they cross the shetland with cheviots texals and suffolks.  unless your planning on showing then don't bother with pedagrees. if you can try to souces them from up here. we have cleared the herd of a lot of the desises that you may get down south. the rams can be very cute and have a very nice pair of horns.


  • Guest
Re: Shetland Sheep
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2009, 07:19:12 pm »
I kept Shetland sheep some years back and I found them to be very productive to keep. They were easy lambers, even to the terminal breeds of tup, and very milky. I put them to Blackie, Suffolk, Bleu du Maine, Border Leicester, and Texel tups and always got top money for my lambs.

The ewes were black and moorit................slightly bigger than the commercial type.

My friend (now deceased) kept a large amount which he bought from Shetland sheep sales at Inverurie, and his always did well to the Lleyn tup.


  • Joined Mar 2009
Re: Shetland Sheep
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2009, 07:53:05 pm »
I know people do, but I would not put a Texel or Suffolk on a Shetland, Dorset Down possibly or Ryeland is supposed to be a good cross.
Do not agree with Shetlandpaul about pedigree though, I say get registered ones, mine did not cost any more than unregistered ones. If you decide to sell then it could make them more appealing to someone.


  • Joined Oct 2008
Re: Shetland Sheep
« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2009, 08:49:37 pm »
theres nothing wrong with crossing with a texal or suffolk. they also do a three way cross but thats then getting commercial. the coloured shetlands do apear slightly larger. they look better to. lindy your missing the point. im from shetland . unless your showing then there is no point paying to register them. we got our entire flock of shetlands for 150. my shetlands are as pure as any in the shetland flock book.

if you want to go down the pedegree route go for it but like any hobby you pay for what you get. if you want them as mowers and meat then don't bother with the paper work.


  • Joined Jun 2009
Re: Shetland Sheep
« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2009, 11:24:05 pm »
we got 4 shetland ewes a couple of months ago having never had sheep before and they are great.  Really easy to keep and come up as soon as we go in their field.  they're not exactly tame but i dont think they are scared of us either and seem to get braver every day.  the only down side that we have found is that they are REALLY noisy!  they always seem to have something to say and can be heard the other side of the village!  Definately glad we got them


  • Joined Mar 2009
Re: Shetland Sheep
« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2009, 07:48:35 am »
Hi Shetlandpaul
I am not missing the point, I just have a different opinion !
I personally would not use a Texel or Suffolk on a Shetland - if carcase size was that important I would not buy tiny sheep.
I got mine  primarily for wool as many people in this area do. I want quality rather than quantity.
If they are registered you have the scope to run a pedigree flock and you know they are genuine Shetlands. You can show them and you have knowledge of their breeding when you buy a ram.
If you just want to breed for meat it does not matter I suppose but you could then argue a crossbreed might be better.


  • Joined Oct 2008
Re: Shetland Sheep
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2009, 05:47:27 pm »
not up here.they use the Shetland mum as she is easy to lamb and very hardy. the hardiness is the main point. yes a Shetland will never compete with the bigger breeds but they are as tough as anything. we are a crofting community and we are happy with the way we do things. the wee sheep may be smaller than normal but they are the result of 2000 years of selection. don't get Shetlands for there smallness these are proper sheep and not pets. no eating a cross is not better the taste is diffrent. the crossing is only done to produce a commercial British carcass. even with a pedigree your trusting the vendor/breeder to be honest. as said we know each other and that is much better than any paper.


  • Joined Nov 2008
Re: Shetland Sheep
« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2009, 06:46:43 pm »
I for one love to see Shetland sheep and as my mother lived in Lerwick for over 27 years have eaten some of the nicest lamb you could ever get. what they live on in Shetland is nothing like what they would eat in Scotland, England. Ireland or Wales. They have to forage hard to find food on what I would call more moorland than grassland, even eaten on the sea shore. Just because an animal has a pedigree does not mean they are good, far from it sometimes.


  • Joined Oct 2008
Re: Shetland Sheep
« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2009, 08:01:59 pm »
when we first moved up here the kids called them powderpuff sheep. if you can't see that in there winter coat then suspect its not pure. they are very cute. alas the market for light lambs has reduced so thats why they cross and the price they get. 25 for a shetland 35+ for a cross. the hills are emptier than they have been in a long time. oddly shetland ponies are more common. there are lots of rare breeds about that sounds daft i know but try a local varity it was bred for local conditions.

Daisys Mum

  • Joined May 2009
  • Scottish Borders
Re: Shetland Sheep
« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2009, 08:29:54 pm »

When I first got my 5 shetland ewes we spent the first few days hunting for them as they are brilliant at escaping, but saying that once they  settled they were no problem, they are very easy to keep, I have had no problems with lambing etc,they all have had twins the last 2 years without any help. I have a bad back but even I can turn one over and trim feet etc.

My land is on a hill and they are great for getting to the bits that the horses can't get to and seem to thrive on the rough grazing and weeds.
The meat is some of the best lamb that I have ever tasted and I have no bother selling it as half or whole lambs.

I have used an unregistered shetland tup for the past 2 years and think that if they are not going to be shown it doesn't matter. Mine come to the sound of a bucket rattling. A friend brought his dogs one day to round them up for me for worming and they ended up chasing his dogs across the field then bringing themselves in.


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